I honestly do believe there’s few cities in the world that leave more of a striking impression than Cape Town.
Find me one person whose been here and who didn’t fall in love with the place… go on I dare you!
Because I bet you’ll struggle.
Yup Cape Town captures the imagination like few other destinations on earth, so please don’t make the mistake so many travellers do and only give yourself a few days for this city.
From hiking to wildlife, shopping to sightseeing, history to adventure, this city offers something for everyone in one sunshine-drenched, ocean-wild, soaring-mountain, vibrant package.
And to prove this to you, and to convince you that this African beauty deserves at least a week-long stay, here’s my complete Cape Town itinerary…
- 18 Best Things to Do in Cape Town on a Budget
- Top 5 Cape Town Hostels
- 15 Very Best Things To Do in South Africa
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My stay in Cape Town was kindly sponsored by Atlantic Point Backpackers, but, as always, all views are my own.
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Day 1 in Cape Town
On your first full day in Cape Town, it’s time to get your bearings in this epic city and tick off a few of the central attractions.
Start at the city’s CBD, where several free walking tours leave and are a great way to orientate yourself.
Alternatively you can also join a very cost effective Hop On, Hop Off Topless Bus Tour, but with either option, don’t miss Greenmarket Square, the Parliament Building or the Company Gardens.
After the CBD area, head to Bo Kaap – one of the most photographed parts of Cape Town and an Instagram favourite!
Learn about this history of this fascinating Malay area, snap the gorgeous houses and savour the wafting favours of delicious cuisine, but try to hold off eating too much!
That’s because after Bo Kaap it’s time to head for lunch in one of my favourite Cape Town cafes…
… The Kitchen in Woodstock is a short 15 minute Uber drive from Bo Kaap and is something of a local icon.
Choose from 3-5 delicious and freshly prepared salads, add your toppings of choice and then sit along the communal wooden tables among the kitsch and quirky furniture.
After lunch, you can check out the Woodstock Exchange for some unique gifts and coffee or head to the Old Biscuit Factory – especially if it’s a Saturday – when the famous Neighbourgoods Market takes place.
Finish up at the District 6 Museum to start putting some of Cape Town’s history in context.
Day 2 in Cape Town
On Day 2 of your Cape Town itinerary, it’s time to continue the historical journey with a poignant trip to Robben Island – the penal colony where Nelson Mandela was held for a significant period of his incarceration.
Robben Island tours last 4 hours and are offered as package including return boat, island coach trip and visit to the prison cells guided by a former inmate.
It’s a good idea to book your Robben Island tour a week in advance online here as there’s only 3 trips daily and tickets often sell out.
Couple this with the fact that boats to the island frequently stop sailing in Cape Town’s notoriously windy climate, and you’ll learn why booking in advance really is advised.
Robben Island tours leave from the V&A Waterfront and strolling this beautifully regenerated and tourist-friendly area is a great thing to do either before or after your trip.
Highlights include the Cape Wheel, the great Zeitz MOCAA Museum and the many street art pieces, selfie spots, picturesque bridges and lazy seals!
There’s also a good food market, some top shopping care of The Watershed and plenty of beautiful, historic structures including the Clock Tower too.
Day 3 in Cape Town
On Day 3 of your Cape Town itinerary, it’s time to get active and scale the flagship mountain that sits at the heart of this city.
Table Mountain offers tons of different hiking routes and you can choose whether to take a guide or not.
One thing you must check however is the weather – paths and the cable car here often shut due to windy conditions and clouds can quickly sweep in at any time to obscure the summit and the view from the top.
Personally I opted for the route up the back of the mountain that began in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and didn’t use a guide.
I loved this walk as it meant I was able to include these beautiful gardens with a hike in one handy day.
Choosing this route also allowed me to walk along the length of the flat top of Table Mountain, before enjoying the cable car back down again the other side.
One great tip is to book the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway online in advance to avoid queuing for ages to get on it!
Finish up day 3 of your Cape Town itinerary with a more leisurely afternoon by exploring the bohemian and student-filled area of Observatory.
I loved this cute suburb with its great vintage stores, charming bookstores, health food shops, quirky record shops and delicious cafes – making it the perfect place for a coffee and a cake after a hike.
My favourite café was Rust!
Day 4 in Cape Town
On Day 4 of your Cape Town itinerary, it’s time to head out of the city and explore some of the gorgeous landscapes around.
Grab an Uber down to Muizenberg and, after staring at the surfers, walk the lovely coastal track to the cute cove of St James to snap the Victorian Bathing Houses.
From here continue onto the delightful Kalk Bay and refresh yourself in one of the character-filled seaside cafes, before grabbing an Uber onto Boulders Beach.
Just past Simon’s Town, Boulders Beach is the place to spot wild African penguins… and lots of them!
Pay your entrance fee and then head to the boardwalk to snap these cute creatures.
Afterwards, don’t miss the opportunity to swim and sunbathe with the penguins!
Head out of the main Boulders Beach entrance and continue along the walking path to your left and you’ll soon get to a small little cove where you can get super up close and personal with them.
After you’ve had your flippery fill, grab another Uber, this time all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope where you can enter than National Park and stroll right to the point where the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
Just don’t get blown away as you try to snap the gorgeous views!
Day 5 in Cape Town
Day 5 of your Cape Town itinerary is all about exploring the Green Point / Sea Point area and the surrounding coastline.
After your busy day yesterday, getting some relax time on some of the city’s most beautiful beaches can’t be missed.
Camps Bay is one good option, but I prefer the individual and unique vibe of the Clifton Beaches.
Either beforehand or after your beach time, don’t miss a stroll or cycle along picturesque Sea Point and a hike up the iconic Lion’s Head for one of the best views of the 12 Apostles you can get.
Day 6 & 7 in Cape Town
And finally, with just a couple of days remaining on your Cape Town itinerary, it’s time to head out of the city again, but this time to enjoy the Western Cape’s stunning Winelands.
The 2 most popular destinations for wine tours and tastings are Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and spending a couple of nights in at least one of these, to soak up the gorgeous scenery, the architecturally quaint streets, the fine wineries and exquisite restaurants, is a must.
Stellenbosch, in particular, is a lot of fun and being a bustling student city, it offers lots of gorgeous shops, cafes and historic buildings.
Check out the Botanical Gardens within the campus grounds here too (entrance 10 Rand) and enjoy the colonial architecture and goodtime feels.
For wine tasting, it’s best to take a tour to visit a number of the top surrounding vineyards.
Tours normally last all day (10am-6pm) so don’t plan to do too much following this… or the next day!
I paid just $40 USD for a full day wine tour from Stellenbosch including hotel pick up / drop off, visits to 4 wineries, lunch and the tasting of over 20 different wines, as well as cheese and chocolate!
The views around the vineyards are also stunning so take your camera!
Mini Travel Guide to Cape Town
Best Hostel in Cape Town for Digital Nomads
And right by the Waterfront is the fabulous Atlantic Point Backpackers. A haven for budget travellers, I absolutely loved my time in this gorgeous spot with its chilled and personal vibe.
Ideal for female travellers, the women-only dorms here (ensuite) are a rarity in Cape Town and the healthy FREE breakfasts, good coffee and huge, clean guest kitchen and top security add to the super ambience.
The friendly staff here made me feel right at home and with a designated Whatsapp group to keep you in the loop with the daily hostel activities, it’s impossible not to make friends here!
The beautiful ‘beach house’ decor completely suits the perfect coastal location of this top Cape Town hostel and I absolutely loved their environmentally-conscious approach to running a hostel.
And what’s more, the FREE wifi is lightning fast and they even have a designated co-working space on the premises!
As you can imagine, I was in my element here and will def be back!
Get 15% off your Atlantic Point Backpackers reservation with the promo code: BWSP15
Just enter it when booking via their website and then thank me later! 😉
5 Essential Packing Items for Cape Town
#1 Cape Town Lonely Planet – A great travel aide to this city with tons of historical info, maps and top tips, the Cape Town Lonely Planet will help you get the best from your time here.
#2 Metal Water Bottle – Cape Town tap water is drinkable – hoorah! Bring your metal water bottle so you can simply refill from the tap, helping the environment and your small pockets at the same time.
#3 Good Camera – Cape Town is one of those ultimate bucket list destinations and travelling here with a good camera will help you preserve the memories. I highly recommend the mirrorless Sony A6000. Light, compact and robust, it’s been perfect for my Africa travel adventures.
#4 Sun Hat – Cape Town is hot and dry and often, windy as hell. When you’re walking in the city, taking day trips or hiking some of the mountains here you’ll be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, so making sure you pack a sunhat for adequate protection is key. I love this one from Hello Sunshine.
#5 Amazon Audible – Travel to Cape Town from just about anywhere takes a long time – no matter whether it’s on a plane, bus or boat. Having something to listen to while you enjoy the journey therefore is a must! I love Amazon Audible, which is the best audiobook service around!
Best Budget Tours in Cape Town
If you’re interested in an unforgettable, well-priced tour in South Africa with guides you can trust, or a self-drive trip organised by a great company, then email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you my top recommendations – simple!
Alternatively, I’m currently offering my readers an exclusive discount on all Absolute Africa tours, meaning you can now travel even more in the amazing country of South Africa and across the whole region of Southern Africa for even less!
Simply send this top African overland tour company an email to [email protected], quoting the discount code BWSP, and start planning your incredible trip with them today!
Otherwise, if it’s a safari focus you’re after, check out these South Africa top picks.
Travel Insurance for South Africa
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
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And that’s it, my complete Cape Town itinerary.
Have I convinced you to stay a week in this amazing city yet?